Ending net neutrality will put us all in the slow lane

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 5:55 PM

If you aren’t concerned about the removal of net neutrality, then you should be. Net neutrality, or the system that bans Internet service providers from changing the download speed of certain content or charging users extra fees for access to specific websites and applications, might be gone in December, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

In May, the FCC voted to move forward with Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality. The commission will vote on Dec. 14 to repeal net neutrality.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in an email to reporters. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

While his statement is nicely written, it’s deceiving. If the FCC requires providers to be “transparent” and let consumers “buy the service plan that’s best for them,” then that means the providers can charge for separate packages of Internet applications.

An example of this is taking place right now in Portugal, which does not have net neutrality. Instead, the Portuguese internet provider Meo is splitting applications into packages, with titles such as messaging, social, video, music and email. Instead of paying one fee and receiving all of those things, people would have to pay monthly for a messaging package, a social package, a video package, a music package and an email package.

How does Portugal’s net neutrality issue affect us? As of next month, that could be us. Instead of paying one data plan, we could end up paying for four or five separate ones, which could ultimately lead to astronomical costs. 

Additionally, streaming service customers who pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu may have to pay extra to make sure their streaming service speeds are fast. But, the main point of anti-neutrality laws is to put money in the hands of internet service providers. It’s a ploy to line the pockets of big wigs who already have more than enough money.

Not only will this hurt consumers, but if anti-neutrality is passed, new business owners and entrepreneurs will have a very hard time establishing their businesses if they can’t pay the hefty fees to the providers. 

Unfortunately, right now, consumers don’t have too many choices for internet service. So, if you don’t like the way one provider is running your internet, you’re ultimately in a tough spot. 

Additionally, some of the providers can create “slow” and “fast” lanes. The slow lane is the “minimum level of guaranteed access.” The fast lane is a paid access lane, where one can access the services that are able to pay the big bucks to the internet service providers.

If you care about the future of the internet (which if you use social media, email, or Spotify, you should), then contact your legislators and urge them to help stop the FCC’s plan. If you go to battleforthenet.com, you can enter your name and address, and the website will link you up with your representatives. Don’t know what to say in your letter? It has a script for you! 

There’s no excuse to stand by idly. 

Dakota Palmer is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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